9/12/2013 9:01 P.M. ET
Masterson plays catch up to 90 feet Thursday
By Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Right-hander Justin Masterson -- who strained his left oblique muscle in his Sept. 2 start against Baltimore and had to leave the game in the second inning -- played catch before Thursday's series opener against the White Sox.
"He came out today and played catch," manager Terry Francona said. "He went out to about 90 feet [and there were] no issues, no problems. And we'll just continue that progression. … He has to go [through] his progression, but he did well.
"[When he returns] all depends on how quickly he comes back. If he's back and healthy, we can pitch him. But that has to happen. So, we don't need to put one thing ahead of the other."
Masterson is 14-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts this season.
Scuffling Bourn remains confident during playoff push
CHICAGO -- Michael Bourn is quick to point out just how long he's been slumping at the plate recently, but he also said before Thursday's series opener against the White Sox that experience tells him he'll come out of it.
"I'd say I've [been slumping at the plate] the last month and a half," Bourn said. "I always believe that I can come out of it any given day. That's how I look at it. … I take it one day at a time and I just grind away."
Going into Thursday's opener in Chicago, Bourn was hitting .211 since the All-Star break, compared to a .290 clip in the first half. The leadoff man said that one thing he knows will help down the stretch is the excitement of the playoff push as the Indians continue to chase a Wild Card berth.
"The best thing about it is to be playing meaningful games," said Bourn, whose team in 2012 -- the Braves -- lost the National League Wild Card playoff to the Cardinals. "It's miserable playing games that don't count in August and September. I've been down that road and I hated it. … When you've got something to play for, there's just so much excitement."
As Bourn has gone, so has the Indians' offense. Entering play on Thursday the Indians were averaging 3.88 runs per game since the break, batting .239 with a .688 OPS, each third-lowest in the American League over that period.
Bourn said he knows how much his team depends on him for a spark from the top of the lineup, especially with Cleveland's second-half offensive struggles.
"I know my team depends on me," Bourn said. "If I'm rolling, we're rolling. Even when I was with the Braves, Chipper [Jones] used to [say] all the time, if Mike's rolling, we're rolling. It's been like that with almost any team I've been on.
"I'm glad to be able to be the one that gets the engine going. I love that."
Giambi compares Tribe to A's of last decade
CHICAGO -- Jason Giambi has been a part of many teams that were in the position that the Indians currently find themselves in, pushing toward October with hopes of playing in the postseason.
Giambi, a 19-year veteran, said that this season's Indians remind him of some of the A's teams he played on over a decade ago.
"This team reminds me a lot of the Oakland teams," Giambi said. "Great starting pitching [and] a great bullpen. We definitely hit with more power in Oakland, but we have that team chemistry [and] guys are really tight on this team and really root for each other.
"The play of some guys on the bench, from Ryan Raburn to the rest of the guys like Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes have been unbelievable. So that's been really exciting. The team chemistry is what I think has really carried us through."
Manager Terry Francona said that having a player like Giambi, with the experience and clubhouse presence that he brings, has also been an invaluable asset for the club.
"When you have guys like 'G' around, it's a huge help," Francona said. "I've told these guys all year. I've tried to talk about him and I don't feel like I've done it justice. That's how strongly I feel about his presence."
• Outfielder Ryan Raburn was back in the lineup Thursday against the White Sox. He had been out of the lineup since Saturday, dealing with a left Achilles strain that initially landed him on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 19.
Raburn was activated on Sep. 3, but the pain in his heel flared up again, prompting him to miss more time.
"I think some days are better than others [for Raburn]," manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes he'll do something and he'll feel it, so we kind of keep an eye on him. But I don't think it's anything that's going to get in the way. … He's OK. You'll see him this weekend."
• Reliever Carlos Carrasco, who had been away from the team since Sep. 10 attending to a family matter, was back with the club in Chicago for the series opener with the White Sox on Thursday.
• Entering Thursday's series opener with the White Sox, second baseman Jason Kipnis was batting .424 (25-for-59) in 16 career games at U.S. Cellular Field. That was the highest qualifying batting average by a visiting player at U.S. Cellular field since the start of the 2011 season.
Kipnis -- who also led all active visiting players at U.S. Cellular Field in OBP (.514), slugging percentage (.746), OPS (1.260), and RBIs (18) -- is a native of Northbrook, Ill.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.